This past weekend, the Big Ten held its annual Media Days event where coaches and players from every Big Ten school, along with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, meet in Chicago to discuss the upcoming season with the media. Although this year’s topics largely circulated around the Ohio State scandal, which resulted in the forced resignation of Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel and the vacation of last year’s wins, new Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, and New conference member Nebraska, Illinois still found some ways to stay in the news.
Day one of the two-day event featured the coaches taking the podium to give their preseason expectations and desires. Illinois head coach Ron Zook focused on how the Illini hope to continue the success from last season. While a 7-6 season is hardly reason to celebrate for most programs, the Illini turned around a program that had gone a combined 8-16 in the past two years. With freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase returning after a record-setting season, Zook and company are hoping to extend the success to the 2011 season and post Illinois’ first back-to-back bowl seasons since 1991-92.
Day two was less formal, with the coaches from each school along with three players from the team addressing the media as well as meeting and signing autographs for fans. Coach Zook decided to bring three senior players with him to represent Illinois; wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, center Jeff Allen, and safety Tavon Wilson. The players answered questions about their own expectations for the upcoming season, how they expect their roles to change and to impact the team in greater ways, and their thoughts on the new two-division alignment.
While Wisconsin is the heavy favorite to win the Leaders Division as it is coming off a Rose Bowl season with most of its roster back, the Illini have already proven that one season can change a lot, as they went 5-7 the year after their Rose Bowl season in 2007. Illinois is considered by some to be a dark horse contender for the division title. The Illini have 8 home games this season, including against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
For more on Illinois and the Big Ten Media Days, check out the links below.
- The Big Ten Network has several videos of Illinois head coach Ron Zook addressing the Media and of the 2010 Big Ten game of the year (a triple-overtime game between Illinois and Michigan). They also have photos from a blogger in attendance and his weekend recap.
- ESPN also sent several analysts and bloggers to the event. They recapped both Day 1 and Day 2 of the event, as well as posting several videos throughout the weekend.
- Illini Productions also posted their recap of the Media Days, as well as videos of interviews with coach Zook, Jeff Allen, A.J. Jenkins, and Tavon Wilson.
- The News Gazette recapped its top moments and quotes from the event.
Topics: A.J. Jenkins, AJ Jenkins, Big Ten, Big Ten Media Days, Illini, Illinois, Illinois Football, Jeff Allen, Michigan, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ohio State Football, Ron Zook, Ron Zook Nathan Scheelhaase, Tavon Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers, Wisconsin Football, Writing Illini